A Shoprite worker and mother of four who refused to be identified has disclosed that despite having worked for ten years now at Shoprite, she is currently earning a measly N$1 700.
Speaking with this publication, she said that she had been confined to a weekly salary of as little as N$200 only to have it topped to N$1 600 after seven years of service and having had become a full-time worker.
“If you worked on Sunday then that’s maybe when you would get N$300 per week,” she told The Villager.
Efforts to have her salary increased amounted to a N$100 increment last year and she said that she has nothing to show for it despite having worked that long.
“Imagine I worked for ten years and I am earning N$1 700. I work at Shoprite Oshakati. At first I was a cashier. They sent me every time to work at the tills and I am at the same time packing the shelves,” she narrated.
Even though they clock at six in the evening, she said that when the shop is bristling with customers they have no choice but to work until seven without overtime.
Last month, she had to be “forced by the regional manager, Mr. David Shapwa” to stay at work inspite of knock-off time and sent to the tills on the condition that they would be given taxi money which never came.
“We worked maybe two hours at the tills. Look, it’s late I have to go home. One lady had a taxi picking her up. They told her, no we will call a taxi then we will give you taxi money to go home.”
“There after we got from the tills they said who told you that we will give you taxi money; nobody is giving you taxi money! And she stays in Ongwediva,” she told The Villager.
She said they get paid on the 27th and by the time the new month starts, she wont be having much to take her family through and will have to compromise.
So grim is the situation that she said that there are no benefits: “I don’t have the number of the ministry of labour, I don’t have anything. That’s why I just tried to look on Facebook for the media.”
She has the weight of her mother, sister and brothers that she has to take care of and at times has to stay stuck in Oshakati without going back home for lack of transport money.
“And if I get transport to go, what will I take home? Nothing!” she said.
She has pleaded for government and the ministry for labour to come to their rescue and take Shoprite managers to task on this gross exploitation.
“We need an increment at least,” she pleaded.
But her voice is a drop in an ocean of many that have come out to show the world how Shoprite is exploiting them.
Yet she further revealed that nepotism is rife at the shop where she works: “Most of the people who are working is just one family, one tribe. Only those of us who are from far, who came from Oshakati to look for work. But most of the people are family members and they work on Sunday so that they get overtime.”
Efforts by the Villager to contact the regional manager for Shoprite Oshakati, Shapwa were futile and could not get a comment by the time of publication.
A weekly paper reported recently that high ranking Shoprite officials have since been called by government for a meeting to iron out the mess but are playing cat and mouse.
Speaking to The Villager, outspoken workers’ rights activist, Hebert Jauch reiterated that a consumer boycott on Shoprite would teach them a lesson and nock some sense into them to address their violation of labour rights.
It is no secret that Shoprite has creamed off turn over of an estimated R130 billion in 2016.
Says Jauch, “This is one thing to tell them that if they continue behaving like that they will have consequences and we propose to government to cancel all purchases from Shoprite immediately as a punishment.”
He also posits that any company working in Namibia would need a license with conditions that include a living wage that enables workers to meet their basic needs.
“Clearly the story that you just mentioned of a mother of four having to live off a N$1 700 is an absolute scandal. It’s impossible to live off that money,” said Jauch.
He advices that workers need to have one union through which they can channel their energy and not to be disunited, something which he says is crucial in the medium to long term.
“That’s one of the big problems that’s holding them back at the moment," he said.